Being Jewish I find inspiration in the quiet rituals of my religion and the ancient symbols that abound within it. Sometimes those spiritual inspirations result in artistic inspirations. This piece is a twist on the most used piece of Judaica in the home: the shabbat candle holder.
On Friday night, just past sundown, all over the world Jews place two (or more) candles in holders, pour wine into their kiddush cup and cover their challah in preparation to begin Shabbat, the day of rest. First, the candles are lit and the blessing thanking G-d for giving us the mitzvot of lighting the Shabbos candles is recited. Shabbat has begun.
This past July my family took an extended vacation back to my hometown in Indiana. I spent the first 10 years of my life in a one stoplight town before moving about 15 miles away to a bigger town (but still small compared to the area of Northern Virginia I live in today). My grandfather still lives in the house he’s had my whole life and we stayed next door with my aunt and uncle. My husband and I took the kids on the “grand” tour showing them our schools, our past homes, the parks, the restaurants and the many other special places that were part of our childhood.
Railroad tracks seem to abound in small town Indiana. I was tickled when my husband decided to share one his favorite childhood past times with our kids: putting change on the tracks and checking to see if the trains came in the night to smash them. The kids had a blast and each evening we would walk to the track to place our coins. Each morning we would walk or drive back to the track to hunt for any change that may have survived. We have a nice collection of flattened and squished coins now.
On one of these railroad track trips I noticed that some of the old ties had been replaced and the old ones were just rotting next to the repaired track. I started poking around and found several chunks of the tie had broken off, so I collected them to take home.
A few months later I was looking at my railroad track treasures and I saw this piece of wood as a candle holder. With my husband’s help we drilled the appropriate holes for the candles. I lined the holes with copper flashing and placed nails into the holes to help keep the candles upright while they burn. With some copper wire I twisted and wrapped several beads around the wood. I wanted to keep it simple and not overpower the natural beauty of the wood.
I can’t wait to go back to Indiana and see what other treasures I might find. The kids are urging me to book the next trip soon!